Showing posts with label Secrets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Secrets. Show all posts


Something Coming

It was just one of those things.

I never knew about it until almost the end. In hindsight I should have seen it coming. I was told about it, then it happened. Not so close as to wallop me over the head with obviousness, but still a close enough cause and effect I should have been able to together.

My grandmother passed away earlier this month. She lived a long life, but that never makes it easier for those left to live with the loss. She was my mom's tether to her childhood. My grandfather Hugh had passed away when my mom was a little girl and my mom was an only child. In many ways they were each other's connection to the world they once shared. Now my mom has her own family for support, but her sense of history has been thrown off balance. 

It was just old age, really. It wasn't cancer or heart disease or diabetes. She had grown old and her kidneys had completely shut down. When one essential thing goes, the rest of them start to fail. That's it. She was in surprisingly good health until the last week or so. I got to say goodbye when she was still her normal self, still sitting and eating lunch, waving me off because she wanted to get back to her routine. She didn't know, and I didn't want her to know, that I was saying goodbye. I had known her kidneys had failed and what it meant for her not to opt for dialysis, but she hadn't seemed to see the gravity of the situation.

Towards the end, my mom told me something that I haven't been able to stop thinking about. It's the kind of thing I would think about and dismiss as an over active imagination or seeking a pattern in the randomness of life, but here I am writing about it. There was a song that would serve as a harbinger. Not like a curse, but a sign of impending change or bad happenstance. Like an omen that arrives as a musical motif, several times over the course of her life.

I don't recall the specifics but I can't keep pestering my mom about it until more time has passed. Here's the long and short of it: when my grandmother had suffered a fall back in mid to late November, my mom had taken her to the doctor to make sure everything was okay. They had returned to her room at the home, with no bad news but no improvement on her health. As my mom helped her mom get out of the car a snippet of music drifted out of the window of another residents room at the assisted living facility. My mom said that her mom told her whenever she heard that song 'It Was Just One of Those Things' something bad would happen. It was never an immediate reaction, like a spring loaded trap. It had been more of a sign of impending change. She would hear the song in an incidental manner (someone's party, a passing car, an open window) and within a few days or a week something would happen. A serious illness. Losing a job. A bad accident. However she made the connection, she held it in her mind for decades. She recognized the song and off handedly explained it to my mom as though it was this harmless old superstition.

My mom had made note of it, and hoped it wasn't the sign it turned out to be.

I've thought about it constantly since my mom told me about it. The first connection I made was to 'Make Your Own Kind of Music' on LOST - an incidental motif that served as a larger sign of connection, a peppy number that clashes with the unpleasant thing it accompanies. I've been racking my brain to see if anything in my life has happened like that. I've been on a constant vigilance to see if anything happens like it. I know our brains seek to create a pattern out of random occurrences  similar to how we are hard wired to see faces even where there are none. Maybe that's what happened to her. I don't know. 

Almost every night, now, I've been having conversations with my grandmother in my dreams. Maybe it's just me processing things I haven't dealt with yet. Maybe I'm looking for answers I never got to ask about. She's never able to answer hard questions before I wake up, though. If I can, I'll see if I can remember to ask her about this in my dreams. It's just one of those things.


Iced Out

So Xmas is coming, even if winter is barely here. 

There's no snow whatsoever. It's straight up a bummer for the holiday season. The situation used to be that I loathed winter and couldn't stand the omnipresence of snow. It was dark and miserable and painfully cold, but hey - that's life in the Middle West, huh? 

It still is, just not as severe these days. Last winter we hardly had any snow at all. Here we are on the 5th of December with nothing to show for it, save for the dead lawns and bare trees filled with lights. I guess the fact that it gets so dark at 4:30 in the afternoon tends to cover that up a bit but it's still a bummer when Xmas is on the way. It's hard to believe just two years ago we had a blizzard so severe the Metrodome straight up collapsed in on itself. That was an amazing storm. My (then) fiance and I spent the day cooking and baking and watching the world slowly succumb to the snow. At about one in the afternoon we saw all of the city buses line up on the street below our condo. We were confused as to why all the people were streaming off the buses until we saw the signs on the front of each one change from the route to 'Not in Service'. The city had given up. They knew when to pull in and close up shop, even if that meant stranding everyone at the Rainbow Foods in Uptown. 
Not even a month earlier an even crazier weather event happened. While my better half had gone out with her friends for a girls' night out, my younger brother and a friend of mine came over for a drink before seeing a movie at the Lagoon Theater two blocks away. On the short walk there we noted the steady drizzle and the dropping temp. I remember the three of us exchanging mutual concern over what was going to happen. We went inside and promptly forgot about all of that while we watched Monsters, an awesome yet underrated movie. Two hours later we left our seats, took one step outside and simultaneously grabbed each other for support as we slid down the curb on half an inch of glare ice. We were equal parts terrified of falling (and really hurting ourselves, as we were juuuuuusssst old enough to see the danger in icy walkways) and hysterics as we navigated the treacherous path back to the condo. I know I slipped at least twice, the slow, steady breakdown where you start standing and go down in stages, so by the time your feet fly out from under you you're really only a few inches high anyway. My brother tried to stop before hitting the crosswalk (and potentially being rundown by an out of control car or bus) only to slide into the street and almost to the other side, like a statue of a figure skater. 
When we got inside my building I made them promise they wouldn't try to leave. We all biffed it on the two block walk - no one was going to get anywhere without breaking a bone. So what to do? We sat at the windows and drank, five floors up and surrounded by a vantage point from which we could watch the chaos unfold. People were either boldly braving the roads or foolishly ignoring the conditions, staying out until bar close. Seeing the drunks stumble out onto the ice and skid around on shaky legs like a newborn deer had us all doubling over in laughter. That is, until we saw one guy go down hard and not get up. Our laughter quickly died down. "Oh. Oh, no. Alright, coats guys. Let's go help." Before we could leave, though, he made it to his feet and, with great trepidation, made it over to his friends. They hadn't even noticed he went missing. The joys of living somewhere the weather can kill you! 
So we stayed up all night watching the slowest, gentlest car crashes in the world. Blizzards that ruin buildings. Ice conditions that force us to hunker down indoors. I somehow fell in love with bolting the doors and watching the world turn white. Xmas is on the way, but there's nary a flake on the horizon. 

I hope that changes. It's not the same without the white stuff.



Everyone's faking.

That may sound like a broad stroke, but hear me out.

I was feeling frustrated today, after limping home from my run (knee is acting up again) and not feeling like I had accomplished much with the day. At the height of my frustration I was hunched over a tray loaded with paint, staring at the brush I continually fail to properly wash when done painting. As a distraction I was playing the latest episode of the podcast Harmontown, in which Dan Harmon (famously fired by NBC for running the thoroughly fantastic show Community in a manner they saw fit) invited two members onto stage. Dan and cohost/comptroller of Harmontown Jeff Davis talked to the two guests about why they were both feeling terrible. After chasing the varying issues around in their heads for a few minutes, Harmon and Davis realized that everyone on stage at that point was grappling with the idea that they had somehow either made the wrong choice, arrived at their current place by default or failed to act in the best manner. In a sense, they concluded, they all felt like failures and frauds. 

It was incredibly affirming to hear the notion articulated. 

In recent years I've talked with my better half and our mutual friends about a similar idea. We all feel, when sufficiently pressed to reveal it, that we are frauds or that we are somehow faking our way through the day. I read someone's explanation (in a book I can't seem to recall...) that they would get through the day and their head would hit the pillow and they'd think something along the lines of "I'm so glad no one found me out, today!" as though they had pulled some great con over on the world.

That is so much more common than we realize. I felt that reality sink in, in the house I bought with my wife, while painting a room in my free time. I am married. I am a home owner. I choose to work on home improvement projects in my free time. I have a strong 401(k). I was upset that I exercised so much that my knee was failing again. Despite all of these stupid, simple realities I was taking for granted, I still was feeling as though I was slacking or faking my way along. I joke about it with my wife when we come home from somewhere together or when we (guh) have to make yet another run to Home Depot on the weekend (instead of say, going to concerts or bars like when we lived in Uptown) - "Can you beleive some people think we're adults? Why do they trust us with all this? Who said we could buy a house?" 

It's absurd, but there it is - you're an adult. I may not have kids or gray hair or a PhD, but people trust me and think I know what I'm doing. That was what they were affirming in the podcast. You never feel like you're making the right move. You always feel like you're just improvising and constantly averting disaster. That's apparently what life is. You just get older and get more responsibility and if you don't make many mistakes you find yourself accumulating trust. 

Weird how that works.

You never realize it until you step back and look at it. It makes me feel better to have other people come to that same understanding through their own logic. I know I've certainly told it to my better half to calm her down during a crisis. Sometimes you just need to hear it from other people.

We're all fakers, but no one's faking anything.


Bad Mojo

How could I forget?

I struggled a bit with what to post on Halloween proper. I was afraid the magic was fading a bit. It's been hectic around here, there have been all sorts of obligations and things at the office and early colds/bugs...I wasn't really feeling it.

I know, I know.

Comparing the volumes of words last year to the scant posts this year, it's clear my head wasn't in the Halloween game. It felt like the intangible special air of the season hadn't appeared. But then I got home to my better half's chili and the giant bowl of candy to hand out. Suddenly it clicked. It was last minute but it was there. Spooky tunes on Pandora. Treehouse of Horror. Trick or treaters are coming for the first time! We've waited so long for this (and no more huge lines at bars and paying a cover and getting a cab and all the other adult Halloween misery)!

So I got jazzed here at the last minute.

To celebrate, I'll impart something I had forgotten (thankfully). In a recent post I mentioned how I don't believe in this mumbo jumbo about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Supporting my steadfast adherence to science is the fact that nothing...paranormal...has ever happened to me.

Until I was house shopping.

My better half and I had looked at probably 30 houses and were growing frustrated. One day while out with our realtors we stopped at a bit of a fixer upper in the west metro area. Decent, but not great neighborhood. The house was in fine shape from the outside. Inside, though, it I don't know. It's still hard to put a finger on what did it. It had this funny salmon color all over, and I think it had been foreclosed on? Or maybe the owners were renting it out and the people that were there weren't taking care of it. Whatever it was, they weren't taking proper care of it on the inside and everything was kind of slap-dash and in disarray. Seemed like a guy and a little girl, from the toys strewn about. 

As soon as the door had closed behind us something was happening to me. As far as I can recall, no one else felt it. I sure did, though. It felt terrible, like I was drowning, or there was a gas leak and only I was getting the fumes. My head was heavy and throbbing. My eyes hurt and I wanted to lie down and die. My chest felt like it was being crushed. I took maybe five minutes to get my bearings in the house, all the while my better half is imperviously seeing promise. She and the realtors are walking around admiring the kitchen and I practically vomit the phrase "I'm leaving. Now. We're not interested." They were totally perplexed by my sudden change in demeanor, but since I had never exhibited any kind of displeasure on this level, they shrugged and went with it. 

By the time we were in the car and driving away, my head cleared out and I explained what happened. They were a bit surprised but they accepted my reaction with aplomb. My better half was a bit bummed to miss out on what she saw as a great kitchen, even if I felt so horrible. We moved on, they were all cool with it. I'm sure the realtors had seen weirder and worse in their time.

It was so strange. I've never had such a bad feeling, this sense of malevolence or foreboding space. It was as if the house had the strongest bad vibes I'd ever felt. I don't know what to chalk it up to. My religious childhood and paranormal pop culture obsession wants to knee-jerk to call it spirits. My logical mind wants to call it undetected electromagnetics and low-level sub-audible humming. Hey, maybe it was low blood sugar and high stress. I just know there was no way I was going to spend more than five minutes there, let alone buy the place. It gives me the creeps to think about it, so I was glad to put it behind me. Dredging it out for you guys is kind of therapeutic. 

So, there it is. My only spooky deal. Not fun. Like I said, I don't beleive in any of it, which when considering how it felt, is just fine with me. I'll stick with cartoon skeletons and candy and the Monster Mash. Werewolf Barmitzvahs and all that. No real haunts, just real thrills. 


Night Moves

So this'll be an experiment.

I don't know how this is going to work, but I'm going to try dictating a post to see how handy Siri actually is. I'm on the drive home from the office and Halloween is approaching so I thought I would impart something freaky that happened about eight years ago. 

Nothing paranormal has ever happened to me but there was one particular time where my veins ran cold. I was living with my sophomore year roommate in college. While we shared an apartment and before we moved in we knew each other well, you only really get to know somebody until you start to live with them. He was a very nice guy and my closest friend but I had no idea until we signed the lease that he suffered from night terrors. He kind of played it off and made seem like it wouldn't be a problem and that it was fairly rare. I had no background in sleep disorders so it all seemed fairly innocuous. I figured it couldn't be any worse than what I dealt with in the dorms. However he told me that sometimes he would wake up and not know where he was, and that if it happened I should keep my distance and CAREFULLY try to wake him up. No approaching, no touching and a wide berth.

We shared a room.

It was a one bedroom apartment with a sheet running down the middle of the room, Odd Couple style. It wasn't optimal for a couple of college dudes, but we made it work in our own weird way. It made us like brothers, in a sense. Goofing off on those carefree nights he introduced me to Bill Hicks and we streamed Nova specials and tripped out over String Theory. It was pretty rad.

One, night, though, it was not rad.

It was early in the fall semester and we had only shared the apartment for a few months. I had been out carousing and celebrating the arrival of the new scholastic year, which happened to take the form of a drinking contest. A sober and reliable friend dropped me back off at the apartment. My roommate had a part time job which required he be up early on Sunday. Knowing this, I attempted to make a stealth entrance to our shared abode and began to contentedly munch on some leftovers. I was out of the dorms and living the college dream!

This dream shattered when I was mid-forkful of lo mein noodles. Dead calm in the apartment, I was jolted out of my stupor by the roomie screaming "Hello? Hello?" There was a rustling of bedsheets and feet shuffling in the bedroom. Hearing his panicked voice made my blood turn to ice. It was silence, then screaming.

Thankfully, I could still remember his instructions. I called his name, carefully woke him up. I talked him down, explained where he was, why he was lost in his own home. He got his sense and then his bearings. We shared a shaky laugh. It was a kind of bonding moment. It freaked my business right out, but I was able to sleep. Hey, beer. 

Not much of a pre-Halloween story, but it's something. Right? Right. I'll keep digging. There has to be something spooky in here somewhere.


Lawnmower Man

So Fall is here. 

Mixed emotions! 

I say mixed because I absolutely adore Fall. There are way too many reasons to list - the crisp, clear air. The cool, sunny days. Leaves crunching under foot. Making chili and cooking hot meals to warm up. Sleeping with the windows open. Look, I could go on and on. 

There's also a downside, though - it's the end of any measurable light in Minnesota. From now until April it's pretty much dark all the time. I can make peace with that, but there is definitely a physical toll on the body. The cold, unrelenting winter. It's the price we pay for having three amazing (truncated) seasons. 

There's a new reason in the mix this year.

When I was 14 you could not have paid me enough money to mow the lawn. Actually I did not get paid for my own lawn. My dad knew better. Neighbors, though. They paid. Not as much as I wanted, but some. And I loathed it. Owning my own home, now I look for excuses to get outside and tinker with my lawn. What has become of me? Who is typing this? Who is this young man wandering around, picking weed, laughing to himself while listening to oddball podcasts?
There's a certain zen aspect to it, though.

A friend of mine said if she has to mow her lawn, she's having a couple of beers to ease the process along. I heartily agree. Yard work becomes a calming, manageable thing when you nurse a beer or two on a warm Summer afternoon. Now it's a cool Fall afternoon and it's not the same thing. Mowing the lawn has a hypnotic effect, though. You get outside of your head as you follow these little grooves in the lawn. There's the white noise of the mower. After the two-thirds point I can start to feel when the blade hits the grass, with a zing in my hands. It's soothing and eases anxiety the way doodling while on a phone call or putting together a puzzle while having a conversation takes you mind off matters - you distract your conscious mind just enough to let thoughts rise to the surface, free from constraint. What comes to mind is free and accepted. It's not unlike having a brilliant idea while taking a shower or vacuuming - you're free from thinking about thinking.
The joy of mowing a lawn. Man, that's some malarkey. When did I become this suburban stereotype? Did I watch that much King of the Hill? Am I going to be obsessed with my lawn? Give me two years and I'll be out there with a ruler and some kitchen shears, micromanaging like a true neurotic.
It also doesn't hurt that it's a thing that I can put a pin in and call 'done'. I can point to my yard and say "It's not perfect, but I don't have to deal with it for another week." Such a tangible, concrete task in my ADD, screen-filled life is a relief, to be perfectly frank. It's exercise with a definite benefit. 
It's not the end of the world that Fall is coming. I have next Spring to gear up for the whole process. I'll have a driveway to shovel (woof). Also, I'm getting way ahead of myself - after all, the leaves haven't all hit the ground, yet. I need to rake pretty soon.

Now there's some home-owning torture, right?


Irrational Fear

I'm an idiot. 

Not all of the time. 

Just some of the time. 

You see, last night before I went to sleep I was reading an article on the game Slender. It's a free-to-download PC game that has the player running around a park at night collecting pages of a book, avoiding the titular Slender Man, a meme that plays on our fear of the unknown and undefined. You look at him too much and you die. That's it. Sounds simple, right? It sure does, but according to almost all who have played it, it is supposed to be pants-fillingly terrifying. Something about the premise, setting and execution have made a simple yet disturbing game. Needless to say I'm stoked for it. It's sitting on my desktop but I'm waiting for Halloween. Or at the least, the month of October. My terror induced diarrhea must be timely. 

That's not why I'm an idiot, though. At least, not this time. 

No, the thing was that in the article was a link to this video from a series of YouTube clips about...something. I don't even know, really. However, that short clip was so effective in its use of framing timing that I was unnerved to the point of continuing anxiety. I had to put it out of my mind to sleep last night, and all during my run (in the dark, natch) this morning I would get these bolts of memory that would jar me and I honestly found myself looking back over my shoulder know? 

Look, I'm no scientist. But! I majored in Logic and Philosophy in college. I spend most of my brain power working out the rules and systems of the world around me. When given a game to play, I love looking for ways to break the system, to test the boundaries of a pre-established world. That we, as a species, have worked out the cosmos from the multiverse down to subatomic particles astounds me and makes me marvel at being alive. But I don't believe in the supernatural. I know a few people reading this will be disheartened to hear that as much as I love Mysterious Universe, I don't think of it as a journalistic endeavor - it's more a source of entertainment. Much of my ability to deal with the horrors of the world and the cruelty of fate stems from the cold, hard logic of science and how cause and effect operate, coupled with a good ol' dose of Chaos Theory. There's a lot of math I don't understand, but even cats can use an iPad even if they'll never build one. 
The point is - I know this stuff is pure, Grade A baloney. Noises in my house are the house settling or creaking in the wind or my cat being a little unhinged. No one chases me during my run except my thoughts and the local rabbits. Despite knowing these things...I still get the creeps. The willies. That little tingle up the spine that lingers from an evolutionary holdover in which was originally supposed to warn of large animals watching from the bushes. 
I'm not saying there's not danger in the world. Of course there is. Cancer. Car accidents. Random acts of violence. Super volcanoes. But I only control my own self and how I react to things. So why can't I control getting creeped out by stuff like that video late at night? Why do I love to torture myself, especially non-stop in October? Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment. Or maybe I like to pretend there's more out there. See how the other half lives. Who knows. 

I'll just glance over my shoulder every now and then to be sure. 


Baby Sat

So I watched the Jonah Hill comedy The Babysitter recently.

It wasn't very good.

It was, however, a memory jogger for me. I had pretty much forgotten about the fact that I used to do a fair bit of baby-sitting in my pre-driving teenage days.

I don't really know why it strikes me as so odd to have spent as much time as I did taking care of other people's kids. I guess it strikes me as weird, and it must have struck others as weird too, just from the context. Some kids at school raised an eyebrow. A boy baby-sitting! Defying gender stereotypes! Imagine what the papers would say! It didn't even register for me at the time. Now I think back and laugh at the odd choice for me. I mean, yeah, I got paid for it...but I was never that big on kids.

You know how some people do really well with kids and can play with them and entertain them and be patient? Parents and kindergarten teachers, i think they're called. Not really my deal. I didn't dislike kids and I still don't, it's just as a 14/15 year old, they were mostly just noisy and distracting. Their parents always told me I was a good sitter and that their kids liked me, but I just kind of shrugged and thought "Okay, so I hang out at your house, make sure your kids are fine and you give me money to watch TV once they go to bed? Deal."

One time the parents said their kids liked me because I treated the kids like they were peers instead of kids, but really they weren't that much younger than me. I guess I was 15 and they were like...10ish? I don't recall, exactly. I remember thinking that it seemed like the right thing to do. Why talk down to them? Maybe that was it - I didn't really patronize them. Maybe not the best tactic as a babysitter, but then I don't recall any difficulties either. Kids listened when I asked them to go to bed after a night of goofing off. It's not like I fed them junk food and let them run wild, but in hindsight, what was I doing, anyway?

I think I started down that path because some family friends were in a bind and I was socially (and generally) awkward, which meant my weekends were open. Once I equated the money with the loafing around, I was down. Basically it was watching kids for a bit, then I could simply sit and watch TV or read a book I was way into while getting paid for it. On top of it (and I suspect this was the crux of it) I was in a new school and feeling super anxious about anything social. It was an easy out for a Friday/Saturday night - sorry, busy making money, can't hang out! I didn't feel like as big of a loser as if I was sitting at home doing nothing. I was making money!

My secret favorite part of it, though, was the walk home after the parents returned. It was always people in my neighborhood, so I could walk. In the winter, it would be super late (in my teenage mind 11:00pm was late to be wandering around the West Hill) and cold and dark, but the moon and streetlights would reflect off the snow, giving the quiet nights this strangely serene, isolating quality. I would walk home in the cold, money in my pocket, the whole town asleep. It was this secret little adventure I would go on by myself. That's what I thought of when I saw that mediocre movie.

Winter is never far off in Minnesota. When it comes, I think I'll have to have a redux on these weird walks, only now I have the benefit of a better half and a glass of wine. It's only August and I'm thinking of winter all because of a bad comedy. See what we put up with here?


Cadaver Caper

I really should be saving this for next Halloween.

You know what? I can't - this story is too good to share and I don't ever want to forget it.

My better half had a coworker who, contrary to her bright, life-affirming disposition, had a previous career as a mortician's assistant. While this, in and of itself, is worthy of ample amounts of dissection (dear goodness, no pun intended) over a happy hour, the seeming disparity between her persona and the occupation are not the heart of the matter. No, an event on the job, a particular incident, is what prompted me to jump to the keyboard. This was simply too amazing and horrifying to let slip into the ether. I feel compelled to share it with the world.


A brief word on the nature of our inevitable end. 

We're all doomed. Death is one of the few things in the world we will all experience. There is both a universality and taboo surrounding it. We are fascinated by it, yet speak of it in hushed tones. Our lives are seemingly spent in denial of it, yet only when we embrace it do we live to the fullest extent. We are meat containing something special. When that light behind the eyes goes out, all that remains is a vessel, a shell. What we leave behind is not us, but a reminder that we are something more than bags of mostly water. There is, to say the absolute minimum, a mental phenomenon unlike anything else we've seen in the universe. It is to be treasured and valued. Having been present at the moment a loved one has passed, there is certainly clear distinction between "they are with us" and "they are gone". It is simple, yet wholly distinct. 


What I am about to impart is meant in no way to desecrate that remarkable, ephemeral essence. Instead, it elucidates the mechanical nature of our existence that we mistakenly assume to be the beginning and end of who and what we are. But enough preamble. On to it.

This happy little pixie of a woman was a mortician's assistant. She assisted, among other duties, in the preparation for burial through the embalming process. This process involves draining the body of fluids and replacing them with substances that preserve our remains. At some point in the process a high powered suction device is used to drain the body cavity. It would seem that one must always be mindful of where you place such an item when taking a break, because this happy-go-lucky woman made the unfortunate mistake of dropping the suction device on the open throat of a deceased person. The suction and force of the device dropping onto soft tissue allowed it to break through the wind pipe, and begin drawing air (backwards) through the throat and over the vocal cords. The uncanny scream that erupted from the deceased's throat was enough to send the woman sprinting from the room, too terrified to return until the physical reaction was properly explained. All the while, due to the mechanism of the vacuum, the impossible screaming continued.


A horrifying little tale, no doubt. However, it reaffirms the absurdity of our mortal confines and allows me to thoroughly creep out friends around Halloween. I just wanted to make sure I could share it with everyone before the memory escaped me. So have fun with that, and feel free to share!


Enlarged Heart

Hi hi hi.

I've been watching footage of my wedding. It was exactly one year ago today that I married my best friend and the love of my life. Having celebrated this past weekend and watching the footage a year later, tonight, it all seems so ethereal now. It's this amazing bundle of footage of all of my family and best friends in one room, laughing and eating and hugging and drinking. Watching it gives me that same, heart-full feeling I had that night, where you can't believe there's so much love in one place and everyone is so happy to be together.

It is super cornball, but you're super corn dog for calling me on it.

At some point, my snarktastic brothers pinned me with the labels of wistfully reminiscing and idealizing, especially when I have a couple drinks. Yeah, I'll cop to it. So long as I'm looking at my past with rose colored lenses, I'll take that charge for my wedding. It really and truly was a joyous day filled with everyone our hearts could fit and good lord this does sound corn ball doesn't it?


The point is, sometimes it really is as sincere and sappy as it sounds. I love my better half with all my heart, and all of our families and our friends. I am fully aware of the sickly, self indulgent vanity of it all, but the world can be a cruel, uncaring place sometimes and you need to take pleasure when it comes along. If I want to embrace a very focused day of self importance, I'm going to. My better half was and continues to be the most beautiful woman I've ever known. Sometimes I worry that my family and friends don't know how much I appreciate them. Seeing the footage of one massive, amazing party helps to reaffirm the notion that these people care and care very much.

If you've been in my life and shared something special like this with me - thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please know if you're my friend or family, I don't say the L word that much (beyond the context of media consumption, admittedly) but I feel it in my heart. Like all Americans, I'm vain. But I'm also full of gratitude and love.

Thank you.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for celebrating with me. Thanking you for supporting me when I'm down. Thank you for being as awesome as you are and putting on a good face even when it feels like the whole world is against you, because when YOU make believe like life is easy, I believe you. No joke, all love.

My heart is still full.



This is the only post my parents asked me not to write.

They relented, though, after determining the statute of limitations had probably put them in the clear by now. I doubt Los Federales will come knocking but I can understand their trepidation, I suppose. You see...we had bats. Lots of them.

As I explained last time, our house was very, very old. Such old houses have a way of becoming host to uninvited guests. I never saw a mouse or a bug (that started when we moved to the country - HUGE spiders) but damn did we have some flutter-mice. The attic, technically the third floor of the house, was host to who knows how many bats, sleeping and pooping during the day and leaving and swooping at night.

It wasn't a constant, swirling maelstrom of nocturnal nuisances, but it was definitely a problem. You would be sitting and watching a movie with the lights off, not even considering the risk of rabies, when a dark shape would flit across your field of vision. Instinctively we would all duck and cower and make a bee-line for our parents room, which contained our only method of pest control.

A tennis racket.

Wii remotes have nothing on the feeling of swinging a tennis racket as hard as you could, connecting with a terror-inducing bat (Bruce Wayne was a dick, it seems) and sending that little airborne menace flying across the room. Seeing them thwack against the wall and drop to the carpet, lifeless, we would then grab a folded newspaper and sweep them onto it, to be deposited in to the trash barrels outside. So it would go, for the foreseeable time - them, occasionally finding their way into our living space instead of the night sky, us killing a protected species in a shameful act of self-defense/cowardice.

The dynamic shifted one day when my father said he'd had enough. Enough shrieking children. Enough cats doing nothing while a free meal circled overhead. Enough siting up in bed, grabbing a racket that was sitting next to the damn night stand and killing them without even getting up. He had hit his limit. He created something that astounded and horrified us all.

The Bat Trap.
You see, bats can't take off like a bird. The have to drop from a perch and swoop up to take flight. My dad figured out which eave of the house they were mostly flying out of at night and set about devising a solution. A containment system. Risking a broken neck, he climbed up to the top of the house (an impressive height, especially without scaffolding or any safety gear whatsoever) and affixed a bucket and pulley mechanism. At dusk he would raise the bucket. Bats would drop in by the dozen, unable to alter course in time. In the morning, he would lower the bucket full of bats and do something horrible - kill them all. I won't divulge the method he initially attempted, but I'm still impressed and horrified he was able to do it and then put on a clean shirt and have a cup of coffee. After this disastrous first attempt he realized he needed to simplify and streamline his approach. The solution: put water in the bucket. Bats drop in, bats splash around, bats sink. Voila.

Secret best part to the story - he found out he had to kill them because he tried simply burying them alive one morning, only to have a league of furious bats claw their way up from the earth, obviously in search of vengeance. So my dad decided "I'll have to kill them before they can rise from their grave."
Being a fresh homeowner now, I can sort of see how he arrived at his course of action. I just hope I'm not driven mad in a conquest against a similar vermin like some villain from Batman.



Hi kids, ya miss me?

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, getting settled in our new house. There's no finish line anymore, essentially. It's the kind of thing where you just keep improving and fine tuning. All of our furniture is in, a strong majority of the boxes are unpacked and it feels like a home. Not necessarily OUR home yet, but at least A home instead of an empty building where we've been crashing. We just need to give it time while we make it ours. Wallpaper needs to come down, things need to be rearranged, designations need to be assigned. We need to get our scent in there, you know?

In the meantime we're trying to resume life as we knew it. We've slowly been regaining the ability to prepare a decent meal instead of just sandwiches and salads. Cooking is what makes it feel like home, it would seem. Also, we still have no Internet. That makes getting posts done a lot harder. As a mea culpa, I thought I'd share a few anecdotes I recall about the house in which I grew up.

The Big Butt Alarm.

You see, our house was already over 100 years old when I was a kid (for vanity's sake say mid 80's to mid 90's). While it was a great old house with loads had definite flaws, one of which was a stove/oven deal from the 70's that had a broken face plate on it. It still worked just fine, but the knobs and dials on the front for setting the oven required a bit of familiarity/intuition. Not really a guessing game, but you would be much better off leaving the cooking to someone well versed in its idiosyncrasies.

As a result of the broken plastic on the front, a timer would occasionally go off when jostled. It sounded like an incorrect answer tone from The Family Feud. Lean a little too close to the stove and touch this innocuous little knob and "BZZZZZT!" you get the sound of angry bees. Having a family of five in a small, outdated kitchen, our table barely fit in the space we used. Anyone who tried to sit on the stove side of the table ran a significant risk of knocking their butt against the knob as they sidled into their chair and setting off what we all began to refer to as the Big Butt Alarm in that short-hand way all families make jokes. Being a bunch of miscreants, we would all announce it when it went off.

My mom also tended to sit opposite of stove side when she would have coffee with her friends, most of whom were not aware of our dumb jokes. So when a friend of hers slid into place one morning with a cup of coffee and brushed against the faulty knob too hard, my mom gave the Pavlovian response when it buzzed and called out "Big Butt Alarm!" to her own dismay.

She told me her friend looked mortified and cocked her head askew, asking just what she was talking about. Cue my mom's profuse apologies and her swearing up and down that it was something the family joked about, and not a personal dig.

We don't have a Big Butt Alarm at our new house, but I'm sure we'll find something.


Worlds End

I've been thinking about The End of The World. 

Not in the biblical sense, fire and brimstone. Although I suppose in this case it would apply. Moreover, it's in the sense of my life as I know it ending. 

Like any human in this modern age, I have too much imagination with too little to exert it against. I wake up, go through my work day and come home. During that time, things are always happening. At home, more stuff happens. Something is always going on. Decisions are being evaluated, plans are made and executed. Meals are prepared and eaten, chores and duties are dealt with. During all the usual stuff, I'm also writing, tweeting, consuming pop culture and doing the usual 20-something crap that seems important but in actuallity is frivolous. Also, I'll get up at offensively early hours and go running, sometimes in the dark but now there's at least a little sunlight. Despite all of this, that imagination never seems to run out. 

See where I'm going? 

There is no shortage of stuff to deal with in this modern life. You get an extra hour and it fills up with obligations. Indulging in relaxing activites usually has a subcurrent of guilt permeating it, as though worrying about what I ought to be accomplishing makes it acceptable that I'm otherwise supposedly wasting time playing a videogame or reading a book. It's become hard to simply relax. The mind is constantly fretting, worrying, anxiously creating scenarios in which things go wrong or disaster falls or who knows what else. Having no actual dangers to avoid (war, pervasive crime, large predatory animals), my mind is constantly presenting potential scenarios, no matter how unrealistic, in which my world and life as I know them cease to exist and All Goes Wrong. 

Who cares? 

No one. 

Should I worry about it? 

Absolutely not. 

But see, that's the problem. Try to convince yourself that you shouldn't worry about a thing in the future. There's a reflexive instinct to reassert the notion that by not being concerned about it, it will come to pass in a negative light. 

This is not true. 

Worry is not a talisman against bad fortune. 

There is a world of difference between being prepared for bad fortune and constantly being wary of it. One is intelligent and resourceful. The other is a needless waste of energy. "But what if this and what if this and this thing could happen and then all this would happen" but it hasn't. Not yet. Odds are it most likely won't. This is just a wishful direction of energy in the hopes that we can exert some sort of control on the universe. 

The world hasn't ended. It won't. Even if it does, what does that change the here and now? Say I go broke, get cancer and lose everyone I love. Okay. Done. Then what happens? Wailing and gnashing of teeth? Perhaps. But whatever the series of circumstances, my life will have to continue on. War could happen, more terrorist attacks. What good, what possible benefit is there to fretting about it? It simply expends energy I could use to tell my better half I love her, or cook a nice meal, or finish the same book I've been slowly writing. 

Enough worrying. Enough self-caused anxiety. 

I'm going to go enjoy my day. You do the same. 


Cabin Fever



I saw a little movie called Cabin in the Woods this weekend. 

I adored it.

This is, of course, the kind of thing I usually follow with a synopsis and digestion. Due to the nature of the film, however, I'm going to refrain from engaging in my typical activity. Instead, I strongly encourage you to see the movie as I did - in as much of a void of context as possible. While I can't explain the movie, perhaps my reasoning for the experience warrants dissection.
The less I say about the movie, the better. Here are the few facts I can divulge without spoiling the viewing experience: written, directed and produced by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, it has a fantastic pedigree. The dialogue and plot are natural despite the horrible things that happen. Characters are surprisingly believable given the circumstances that unfold. It's about some good looking young people that go to a Cabin in the Woods. Bad things happen and we are given a bit of a mystery to piece together. Saying more than that would begin to chip away at the unexpected delights in the movie.

You know what? 

I need to stop here.
I can feel a full, spoilerific rant waiting to gush out. It's hard to withhold, frankly. I'm even reticent to post any links or images to go along with all this. All I can really say at this point is that if you have any love whatsoever for horror movies, or the ritual of going to the movies or even just smart, incredibly well written and engagingly directed movies - do not hesitate. See it now, before anything gets spoiled. It worked so well in a vacuum. It was so amazing to see a movie that trusted the audience to keep it, to assume we were smart rather than play down to the base level.


Go now.

Don't read reviews, don't watch trailers. Just know that it has been incredibly well received and warrants seeing on the big screen.

Trust me - you won't be sorry.


Endless Nameless

Naming bands is hard.

Actually, choosing a good band name is hard.

Let me back up.

I've been in a few bands in my life. Some had longer lives than others. A couple were no more than impromptu jam sessions. Others recorded EPs and built (incredibly minor) buzz in their areas. Looking back at my choices, I can say with confidence that every single one had an abysmal, face-palm inducing name. Let's delve further into the mess, shall we?

Yellow 5 - the first band I ever played in with a name. I joined as the lead guitar. A punk outfit that played a lot of Aquabats and Green Day. Broke up after a year.

Harris Avenue - the first band i started. I chose the name at random from a book I was reading. The band stuck together for a surprisingly long(ish) time. I cut my teeth here.

John's Band - joined this band, not named after me. I swear. Different John. Only one or two shows and we all went separate ways.

In Like Flint - some reoccurring faces. Name chosen when overheard in conversation. Both band and name were too toothless to take hold.

Casual Hijinx - worst name, yet most prolific. Isn't that how it always works? Name came from a repeated phrase. Played a lot of shows and still have some recordings. Not half bad, in a Get Up Kids-aping sense.

High Five - sat in on a couple sessions with these guys. I take no blame for this one, but I did have the fortune of playing alongside my younger brother, who I still consider to be the best drummer I know.

I know for certain I'm forgetting the name of two other bands that fell in between a couple there, but then again they may never have gestated proper names. A lot of bad jokes maybe, but nothing that stuck, apparently.

See how bad all of those were? Granted, I was anywhere from 15 to 19 when picking names, but man - see how your own bad ideas can betray you? I actually thought they were decent at the time. If anyone I know can recall a name I've forgotten, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.

(Special mention goes to my younger brother's first band. Their name? Grandpa's Pirate Ship. Awesome.)


Pie Hole

Here's a story I never get tired of sharing: 

A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) defies convention by being a single, dude's dude who loves to bake. 

One Sunday, after a night of spirited imbibing and more than a few hairs of the dog that bit him, he decided to alleviate his condition by baking himself a pie. All Sunday this guy slaves away in his kitchen while watching the Vikings lie down on the field. He gets the crust, whips up the filling from scratch, does the whole nine yards for himself. 

One dude, one pie. I love it. 

This guy's gung ho about making this pie for himself, thinking everything's going to be all right if he can just get some sugary, home-baked goodness into him. I can't blame him, it sounds great. 

So he gets his blueberry pie all made up, it's in the oven and baking. He's still a little under the influence when he takes it out and sets the still-hot-to-the-touch pie on the counter to cool. Knowing it's only for himself (which I love, he had no intention of sharing it with anyone, even his best friend who lived just across the hall), he gets out the sugar and coats the top of the pie with a gorgeous, heady amount of confectioner's sugar. 

He waits. 

The pie cools. 

The game ends. 

The Vikings have lost once again. He goes over to the counter to cut himself a giant slice of this delicious homemade pie. Plates it, gets a drink and plops back down on the couch to indulge. Takes one massive forkful and immediately spits it back out. In his still-hazy baking, he mistakenly grabbed the salt instead of sugar. Crestfallen, he shakes his head and dumps the entire pie into the garbage. 

A Sunday wasted. 

When he told us this tale of baking gone wrong, my better half asked him "Couldn't you just scrape the salt off the top and still eat it?" 

His response was a frustrated "Nah, I salted the shit outta that pie." 


On Growing Up

Hey gang.

It's gotten way too serious around here, as of late. So in the interest of lightening the mood while still getting personal, how about I share with you some of the insights I've had in the transition from being a confused adolescent to a functioning adult? Sound good? Let's go! Brace yourself, it's about to get all self-aggrandizing in here. Without further ado, I present to you some of the things that I enjoy about growing older:

-Being in the best damn shape of my life. Just getting this one out of the way. I already covered this one in depth.

-Dressing better. I've learned enough about fashion versus style in the slow development of my taste that I feel pretty confident that I dress well for a young man. You don't want to be showy, you want to be timeless.

-Realizing all religions are equally arbitrary and based on the same basic principles. Hey, I'm not raining on anyone's parade but it took a lot of anxiety out of the equation once I realized they're all as valid as the others, and whatever you choose is your choice. I don't care.

-Understanding why I save and invest so much. Not going broke? Sounds great. Having savings? Even better. Understanding why that's important is the crucial difference, though.

-Being happy with my significant other. I'm still fascinated and saddened that people stay in unhealthy relationships and I am so thankful to have found someone who loves me for who I am and vice versa.

-Having a clean, organized and well lit home. Seriously, there's a difference between kitsch and clutter. I like knowing where my things are and knowing there are no bugs crawling around on an inch of dust. That makes me an old man? I'll take it.

-Not having to put up with people I don't care for. For real. You're a dick? Leave. Or apologize. I've learned you don't have to take guff from someone in this life. Ever. Treat people with respect and they more often than not give it back. If not, they're not worth the hassle.

-Sleeping well and understanding why it helps. Oh man. I wish I understood this in college. Waking up and not hating the world for being exhausted was a game changer. I love that sense of recharge I get from a solid 7+ hours. Screw bars if they get in the way of it.

-Eating healthy food and knowing I'm not poisoning myself. Again, been there and done that. Lots of veggies, less meat. Little to no chemicals. Basically, go with as few ingredients as possible. Feels great and tastes even better.

-Not feeling like a damn child. I don't walk into a room and feel as outgunned, socially, anymore. I get tons of anxiety about normal any situation, for sure. But I don't feel like I'm fresh out of college and wearing a rumpled suit that smells like smoke. All these little things have a cumulative effect.

-Enjoying rational reasonable debate. Particularly over a meal or drinks. I know, don't discuss money, politics or religion. But that still leaves stuff to really gnaw on. I love a good, passionate debate, one where you really sell your idea and maybe learn a thing or two in the process. Maybe you even find yourself giving ground.

-Enjoying silent contemplation. Now I really sound old, huh? I love silence, a brief reprieve from the mad world we live in. Just a small quiet space wherein I hear nothing of car horns, shouting, Kardashians and breaking news. Bliss.

-Stronger BS detector. Through experience or whatever else, you just get a better sense of lies as you get older. Including your own, which leads to lots and lots of honesty. Which is always the best policy.

Sounds pretty pretentious, huh? Yeah, I know. What it all boils down to is the simple fact that I like my own little piece of the world to inhabit, a small place with my better half in which to contemplate the day and reflect on our lives. I like getting older with her. I look forward to being an old man. Years downs the line, of course.